Saturday, October 31, 2009

Approaching Our Last Year

I've been feeling a bit reflective lately. Just kinda stuck in my own head. It happens sometimes. I'm going to blame this session at least partially on the change of season and the time change we experienced last week here in the UK. It's now SO dark by the time I get home that I can't be bothered to do, well, just about anything. Making dinner is such an accomplishment these days. So instead I read and reflect.

I've been thinking a lot about the fact that next year is our last year in England. Unbelievable, really. This upcoming January will mark three full years here, with just one left to go. When I think of all the things I still want to see and do, I realize a year is not nearly enough time. There are so many cathedrals, so many castles, so many estates, so many countries and cities that have yet to be tackled. And I'm supposed to do it all within the next year? Impossible!

In many ways, I'm so ready to get back to the states. Even though I realize I probably won't be living in the same city as my family, I miss be at least in the same country. The time zone difference alone can be very frustrating. It'd be nice to be a two hour plane ride away as opposed to a nine hour plane ride away. (Stupid Atlantic Ocean! Why you gotta be so big?!)

And I won't miss our frustrating laundry situation in this house, which means dragging my dryer into the middle of our kitchen to vent out the window on laundry day. I won't miss our strange parking arrangement that means I have to park five houses away from our own. I won't miss balancing three checkbooks and paying half our bills in dollars and half our bills in pounds.

And I certainly won't miss Friday afternoon traffic on the A-11. UGH.

But I will miss Tesco. And I'll miss the Thetford town center, complete with its river and ducks and Saturday market and fresh rolls and doughnuts at Baker's Oven. And I'll miss the way the fog lies low on the fields along the A-11 on an early drive into base. I'll miss driving through the Thetford Forest this time of year when the leaves are all changing colors. I'll miss being able to drive within two hours in just about any direction and finding the ruins of a castle or a preserved estate house to explore.

I don't like thinking about the fact that this next year is the last. I guess the obvious solution is to "make the most" of this last year. See as much as I can, do as much as I'm able, and leave with no regrets. But the sad fact of life is that often we are busy with various activities or just too tired from our regular week to make the efforts we should. Life happens, and I find my weekends slipping away without having done what I wanted to do.

Foof! That sounds depressing, and I don't mean it to be. I guess what I'm saying is just that I'm thinking a lot about our last year. But I don't want to get stuck in my head and let life prevent me from doing those things I really want to do. Some of them require serious saving and planning, so the time to start is now. I want to go out with a bang and remember my time in England fondly. If I have to bother living a "last year," then I kinda want to do it right, ya know? goes!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Planes, Trains, and Classroom Transitions

This week is transition week. Caleb is moving from the 1 year old class where he's been since January into a new 2 year old classroom (which, incidentally, is much further down the hall from the entrance. Sheesh!)

So far, he's done okay. He wasn't excited when his teacher brought him to this new room. He kinda wigged out the first time on the new playground. And he hasn't napped as well as normal. But I suppose these are all normal signs of transition.

I was super lucky and had Monday off for Columbus day. Normally, most everyone on base would have had it off, but we're in the middle of a Big Fat Not-So-Greek Inspection. Or we were at that time. It ended today. Hooray!

These guys and girls on base have been gearing up for this inspection for months. Records have been scrubbed, gear has been checked, scenarios have been played out. These only come once every so many years and they are a big flipping deal. We'll find out Friday how it went. Fingers crossed!

One of the best (and worst) things about working where I do is that I drive around the perimeter of the flight line at least once a day. It's a pain because Caleb's day care, as well as nearly all the food and completely all of the shopping options are on the opposite side of base from my office. But driving around the flight line a few times a day affords you some pretty cool sites.

For instance, this week I was driving past the "play area" of the inspection where all of our players were "deployed" and playing out the scenario set by the inspectors. As I was approaching the area, bright red smoke was billowing towards the sky. I don't know what the scenario was, but I imagine our guys and girls were geared up to the teeth and running around trying to assess the situation and determine the next best steps.

And there I was, just a few feet away, driving with my windows down, listening to BBC Radio 1. Crazy. Anyway, it was such a surreal and oddly pretty sight, those big towers of red smoke. Certainly not something you see every day.

I also love when I get to base first thing in the morning, and there's almost no activity on the flight line. It's getting darker in the mornings, and sometimes there's a bit of fog on the ground, and it looks like the planes are all tucked in for the night. There's just something about being on base when nothing's going on that feels so peaceful that it almost makes you forget about the greater, real-world missions taking place around the globe.

But the best is when a plane takes off right over your car as you turn the very edge of the runway. I love that. I really do.

I wish I had pictures of this stuff, but it's not Kosher to stop your car on base to take those kinds of pictures, unless you're PA. If I was a bird watcher just outside the fence, that'd be a different story. But I'm not.

Anyway, I do have pics of my trip to the zoo with Caleb on Columbus day. So I'll just share those instead.

Here's Caleb inside the Farm portion of the zoo. The goats behind him were just babies the first time we went to the zoo this past spring. They've grown up, just like my big boy!

I've been wanting to get a picture of Caleb and this big ol' dinosaur for a while, but he was kinda freaked out by it. There's also a dinosaur park about an hour away from here, but I'm not sure he's quite ready for that yet.

I wasn't excited about bringing his stuffed Mickey Mouse to the zoo, because I thought for sure he'd be dropped a billion times and possibly lost. But Caleb absolutely insisted on bringing him with us, and he carried it the whole time! Never even put it in the stroller or asked me to carry Mickey. (In case the pic is too small, Mickey is peeking over his shoulder.)

Caleb loves trains. LOVES them. We've never been able to ride the little "train" they have at the zoo, so we stuck around with the express intention of getting to ride the "too too ten." I was worried he'd get bored and want to get off, but he loved it! When the ride ended, he waved at it, saying, "Bye bye, too too ten! I miss you!"

One more shot of my big boy and his Mickey on the train. One sure sign of Caleb fatigue: those two fingers. It was about 2:30 at this point, and he hadn't had a nap yet. He did really well, though, and we had a great time together!

It was totally awesome having a fun Mommy/Taybub day. I loved it. Hope we can do it again soon!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Well, shucks.

The Handy Manny piƱata I ordered from E-Bay for Caleb’s birthday party arrived today…just five days after the party itself. Nuts. I ordered it with plenty of time (about a month before the party.) It was shipped with plenty of time (more than three weeks.) But military post being what it is, it showed up too late. Ah well. I find something to do with it. Turned out good though, no?
I also received a Microplane zester I ordered off of Amazon about a month ago, as well. I’m pretty stoked about this one. I had never even heard of a Microplane zester before I became addicted to the Pioneer Woman. Thanks to Ree, I have an ever-growing list of kitchen gadgets and items that I would absolutely love to have in my perfect kitchen. Don’t even get me started on her kitchen itself! I get a total sense of kitchen envy every time she posts a recipe. Now I just need some lemons or cheese to zest!

What killed me about the zester was the packaging. What an unnecessarily huge box and ridiculous amount of packaging for a small tool. Couldn’t this have just been put in a padded envelope? The tool itself has sharp edges, but it came in a plastic protective sheath. Surely it would have survived a trip in a nicely padded envelope!

(I had a classmate in one of my graduate classes who went off on a mini-rant one night about unnecessary packaging in items like cereal and how un-environmentally conscious it is. For some reason, that rant got stuck in my head and I think of it often, especially when trying to remove innocuous children’s toys from impossibly difficult packaging or receiving silly items like this zester in the mail that have been packaged as if they were made of crystal.)

Anyway! I blogged about Caleb’s birthday, but not the party, so I just wanted to say how much fun we had! We did it big and pretty much ran the Handy Manny theme into the ground. Noone complained, though! :)

Caleb really had a lot of fun playing with his friends. He spent most of the night laughing and squealing while chasing and hugging his friends. He couldn't be bothered to eat dinner, but did manage to slow down long enough to eat some cake. Oh well, it was his birthday!

The Handy Manny Pin-the-Tool game turned out well. Most of the kids were too young to really be blindfolded, so they were allowed just to pin theirs on directly. The older kids did pretty well with the blindfold, though! I was worried the double-sided tape would tear Manny up, but he surived surprisingly in-tact!

He didn’t enjoy when we sang him Happy Birthday (he cried both this year and last during the singing.) He also kind of panicked about half-way through opening presents. Something about being surrounded by a ton of other kids who wanted to “help” him open presents made him withdraw a bit. Too be expected at kids parties, for sure! But Caleb got to a point where he’d rather play with the toys he’d already opened than worry about opening more.

Thanks again for everyone who came out! It was exhausting, but totally fun. Can’t wait to do it again next year! Of course, if this year’s guest list compared to last year’s is any indication, half our guests won’t be here by this time next year! Unfortunately, that's blessing and the curse of a military family. So many cool people come in and out of your life all the time. You can only hope to run into them down the road.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Caleb.

Happy birthday, sweet boy. Has it really been two years already?

Sometimes it's hard to believe you're the same helpless, scrawny baby that had so much trouble entering the world.
Having recently sorted your baby clothes, I was reminded of how sweet and tiny you once were. I was so proud and so excited to be your mom! Those early days were a bit rough, with Daddy in the desert and our troubles with nursing. Your poor little body got smaller before it got bigger. We were still trying to figure each other out and learn our way in this new world together, but we eventually found it!

And it wasn't long until you were smiling, cooing and eventually sitting up by yourself and rolling over. It all seemed to happen, one right after the other.

Zeus and Zoey have always been your best buds. You had a very early love of your pups that you still have today...even if they are a bit wary of you most of the time! You love to chase them and try to play with them. Unfortunately, they are mostly interested in you as the purveyor of dropped food.

Shortly after your first birthday, I went back to work. It was very hard to leave you in those early days. Even now, nine months after returning to work, there are times I want to call in sick and play hooky with you. It took a few weeks to settle in, but you've really grown and thrived in your classroom. I'm constantly amazed at the new things you are learning.

Your vocabulary has exploded this year. You went from just a few words to complete sentences. Of course, they are still baby sentences, such as "I go here!" but you are putting your own thoughts into words, which still amazes me. You love to narrate your surroundings, such as "Bird fly away!" or announcing to all, "Big truck!" and "Mommy's car!" Unfortunately, you're still at an age where I have to bring you with me in the stalls in public restrooms. And you like to narrate bathroom activities, too, complete with your own commentary, such as "Ew!"

You've got opinions now, too. You're quick to tell me "I like it" or "I yuck it," depending on what "it" is at the moment. Fortunately, the "I like list" is much longer than the "I yuck it" list. You're also rather bossy. You're quick to say, "Sit down, Zeus!" or "Come on, truck!" and of course, "Let's go, Mommy!"

You are full of energy and hard to keep up with, some days. You definitely have your toddler moments. But you are also sweet and loving, and have a tendency to know the perfect moment for a spontaneous, "I love you, Mommy."

I love you, too, baby boy. Always have. Always will. Happy birthday. Love, Mommy.